This week we will begin Galatians 2. In this reading, Paul discusses his dealings with the apostles in Jerusalem and his adversarial interaction with Peter in Antioch. Prior to beginning this passage on Tuesday, we will read through Luke’s accounts of the same circumstances. In Acts 9:19-31, Luke tells of Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem. See, Gal. 1:18-24. In this passage, which occurs three years after Paul’s revelation on the road to Damascus, Paul is only preaching in the synagogues to Jews. In Acts 10, Luke relates to us Peter’s revelation that there is no longer any distinction between clean and unclean and that God shows no partiality between Jew and Gentile. Therefore, Peter journeys into the home of Cornelius the Roman centurion and baptizes his entire household. This is the first explicit instance of a Gentile conversion to Christianity, and more importantly, the baptism takes place without Cornelius having to be circumcised. In Acts 11:19-26, we learn that in Antioch (which becomes important in Gal. 2:11) the church carries out the first mission to the Gentiles and that it is here that the word “Christian” is first used. Notably, this mission to the Gentiles occurs several years after Pentecost (occurring after Paul’s visit to Jerusalem, which was itself at least three years post-Pentecost), and is driven by the persecution that Jesus’ followers received from their fellow Jews. Also, this mission was not carried out by Paul, but by others. Paul joined the Antiochian congregation only after the Gentiles had joined. It appears that it is here that Paul first understands that Gentiles are to be part of the Church. Acts 15:1-35 relates the same circumstances that Paul addresses in Galatians 2:1-10 when “some men from Judea” came to Antioch telling the Gentile Christians that they must be circumcised. In Luke’s telling of the story, he leaves out that Peter was taken in by these men, whereas Paul emphasizes Peter’s backsliding.
If you have the opportunity this weekend, please read through Acts 9:19-11:26 and Acts 15:1-35. As you read through these passages notice how Paul’s living and worshipping with Gentiles leads him into the fullness of his calling to bring the message of the gospel to the unclean and uncircumcised Gentiles.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is Italian sausage and gnocchi. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here, and please bring a friend.
Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”Acts 10:24-25